The Pursuit of God
A. W. Tozer
The Pursuit of God is the enduring Christian classic written by renowned pastor and theologian A.W. Tozer. More than 65 years later, the words Tozer penned on a train from Illinois to Texas echo across the decades to resonate with power in the heart of anyone longing for a deeper experience with God. This devotional masterpiece is at once thought-provoking and spirit-enlivening, an invitation to think deeply about your faith even as you come alive to God's presence surrounding, sustaining and--yes--pursuing you. "This book is a modest attempt," Tozer wrote, "to aid God's hungry children so to find Him." If you are hungry, The Pursuit of God will lead you to the only One who can satisfy the soul.
Part of one’s investment in discipling others should be based upon a theology of discipleship. What is the theology behind discipleship? Is there a theology behind discipleship? The simple command by Jesus to His disciples in Matthew 28:19-20 is good theology and the only plan Jesus had for the survival of the church. However, the origin of His directive goes back farther than time!
Imagine the God-only existence before Creation in Genesis 1. Only God has existed forever and there is nothing else. God is Trinitarian. The Father eternal. The Son eternal. The Holy Spirit eternal. Three yet One! All three persons of the One Godhead have always interacted and been in relationship. That means relationship has always existed, is Divine and can be included in the character of the One True God.
Fast forward. We were created in His image! That means we are to be in relationship with Him and others. To be in relationship with others for the glory of God, is to exercise the divine character. For two or three to gather is to enact and practice what has been eternally happening long before the world began.
The next time you favor to be alone, remember God has always been in relationship. Alone, is not His character. We are created in His image. So, we are to be in relationship with Him and others. The best two human expressions of the Divine relationship are seen in a Christ centered marriage and in a discipling relationship. This is the beginning of the theology of discipleship. It began before the world came into being. Being in relationship with a like-minded small group was taking place before the Cosmos existed.
THE STORY OF "US"
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, …” Keep in mind God did not have to Create anything or anybody. The Trinity is in perfect relationship for all eternity. Self-sustaining. Self-fulfilled in perfection. God didn’t need us. But God did create us and loves us.
Why did God create mankind? You might have heard this question before. One answer is found in Genesis 1:26 when God says- "Let Us make man in Our image ..." This is relational language. The One who is Triune is always in perfect relationship with one another - Father with the Son with the Holy Spirit. God has a relational character. Why did God create mankind? Well it wasn't because He had to, it was because He wanted to, it is who He is. Just as God is love, He is also relational. Furthermore, if we are created in the image of God, we too are relational by nature. The whole Bible story is really a story of "us". Human beings were not to go it alone (Gen. 2:18). If you’re not already, get into a group of likeminded men or women who are in relationship with the Triune God. You were created for this! Christianity is the story of Us in relationship with us.
DON’T PROFANE THE NAME
Ever had someone represent you, or your family or your business or your ministry in a way that brought shame to your name? They didn’t give it their best and made you look weak, incompetent or even flawed in character? Maybe it was perceived falsely? Maybe it was brought through misunderstanding? Maybe it was your own sinful actions which brought disgust in the eyes of others. That’s reality. That’s real life, pre-Christ and even post-Christ.
In Ezekiel, God is making known in no uncertain terms that the Israelites idolatry and exile has given the world a false view of who He is. They have profaned His name among the nations. (see Ezekiel 20:9,14,22,39,44; 36:20,21,22,23; 39:7,25; 43:7-8) it makes Him seem like a weak God who couldn’t deliver His people in their time of trouble.
One’s name in the Bible was more than a label to distinguish them from their brothers or sisters. Your name was your character and it carried with it a reputation. God’s name is to be exalted among the nations. Held Holy. He is Holy. He is Almighty! He is not helpless against Babylonians, your sin nature, nor in dealing with that one person who is a thorn in your side at work.
The Israelites (like us) were profaning God’s name. They were causing the watching world to think wrongly about Him and His capabilities. Walking in obedience and faith hallows God’s name. It shows a watching world He is LORD. Walking your talk makes holy God’s name among your neighbors and the nations. Singularity of life lived by His word, promises, purposes and design hold up His Name for all to see. Witnessing to God’s true character. Giving your all, giving your best, brings honor to the Name. It hallows His Name. Don’t profane His name by living outside the will of God.
WHERE HAVE YOU SEEN GOD LATELY?
(Use this with your family as you spend time together in these unusual circumstances) Use one of these questions each day at meal time.
· Where / what could you say, “Only God could do that?”
· How has God answered prayer?
· When did God prompt you / strengthen you to do something?
· Did God provide for some need this week?
· What can you give thanks to God for?
· When have you wondered, “Where is God?”
· Has God spoken something to you through Scripture or prayer?
· How has God blessed you through others?
· Where have you sensed God’s presence?
Choose one of the questions above.
Reflect on it.
Share your story with your family or group.
Use your time to grow and encourage one another in your walk with Jesus.
God makes a paramount statement at Jesus’ baptism. It indicates a universal goal, a paramount goal for everyone, especially followers of Christ. God (The Father) says to Jesus, and those witnessing His baptism, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.” Wow! Notice God makes a direct statement about Jesus’ life before Jesus has done any ministry. This statement is made pre-ministry. This is an amazing relational statement. Jesus, you are my Son. You are my family. Jesus, I love you even though you have not performed any anointed ministry. Lastly, Jesus, I am really really-pleased with you. Again, Jesus has not done anything up to this point for the reader to see why the Father would be pleased with His Son (from a human vantage).
Pleasing God is NOT performance based it is relationship based! But how? Before doing ministry, Jesus’ relationship with the Father pleases the Father. The way Jesus has lived His life pleased the Father. Jesus’ thinking pleased the father. Jesus has been walking in relationship with the Father and pleasing Him each day for about thirty years! What a goal, this pleasing of God! What an example, this life of Jesus! What a wonderful way to live.
Jesus' paramount goal for His disciples is that their lives will please the Father just like His. We might tremble a little if we were to ask the Father, "Does my life please you?" Yet, keep in mind the answer is relationship based and not performance based. Are you in His Word? Do you meet Him in prayer? Do you follow His lead? These help build, strengthen and maintain our relationship with God. Grow your relationship with the Father and please Him. Teach your disciples to do likewise. This is one side of the coin of the paramount goal of biblical discipleship … side one - pleasing God.
(see – Matthew 3:16-17, 17:5; Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22; 2Peter 1:17; John 8:29)
Paramount Goal #1 for your disciple – PLEASING GOD
For more on this read God’s Purposes for You! by Allan Coppedge and In His Image by Allan Coppedge and Bill Ury.
"Bold prayers honor God, and God honors bold prayers. God isn't offended by your biggest dreams or boldest prayers. He is offended by anything less. If your prayers aren't impossible to you, they are insulting to God."
Keep me, O Lord, from waxing mentally and spiritually dull and stupid. Help me to keep the physical, mental and spiritual fibre of the athlete, of the man who denies himself daily and takes up his cross and follows Thee. Give me good success in my work, but hide pride from me. Save me from the complacency that so frequently accompanies success and prosperity. Save me from the spirit of sloth, of self-indulgence, as physical infirmities and decay creep upon me.
Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy. Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy. Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy. Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy. Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy. Amen.
Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Maker of all things, Judge of all; we acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness, which we, from time to time most grievously have committed by thought, word, and deed against Thy Divine Majesty, provoking most justly Thy wrath and indignation against us. We do earnestly repent and are heartily sorry for these our misdoings; the remembrance of them is grievous upon us; the burden of them is intolerable. Have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us most merciful Father; for Thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ's sake. Forgive us all that is past; and grant that we may ever serve and please Thee in newness of life, to the honour and glory of Thy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
"Let no one profess to trust in God, and yet lay up for future wants, otherwise the Lord will first send him to the hoard he has amassed, before He can answer the prayer for more."
" Have you ever said, 'Well, all we can do now is pray?' ... When we come to the end of ourselves, we come to the beginning of God."
Gracious Holy Spirit, so much of my life seems to revolve around my interests and my welfare. I would like to live just one day in which everything I did benefited someone besides myself. Perhaps prayer for others is a starting point. Help me to do so without any need for praise or reward. In Jesus name. - Amen.
Open unto me - light for my darkness.
Open unto me - courage for my fear.
Open unto me - hope for my despair.
Open unto me - peace for my turmoil.
Open unto me - joy for my sorrow.
Open unto me - strength for my weakness.
Open unto me - wisdom for my confusion.
Open unto me - forgiveness for my sins.
Open unto me - tenderness for my toughness.
Open unto me - love for my hates.
Open unto me - Thy Self for my self.
Lord, Lord, open unto me!
To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world.
O merciful God,
whatever You may deny me,
do not deny me this love.
Save me from the idolatry of loving the world,
or any of the things of the world.
Let me never love any creature
but for Your sake and in subordination to Your love.
Take full possession of my heart;
raise there Your throne
and command there as You do in heaven.
Being created by You, let me live to You;
being created for You,
let me ever act for Your glory;
being redeemed by You,
let me render to You what is Yours
and let my spirit ever cleave to You alone.
"Blessed Savior, I am not good at resting in the hollow of your hand. Nothing in my experience has taught me this resting. I have been taught how to take charge. I have been taught how to be in control. But how to rest? No, I have no models, no paradigms for resting.
That is not exactly right. Jesus, when you walked among the Jerusalem crowds and in the Judean hills, you pioneered this way of living. You were always alert and alive. You lived utterly responsive to the will of the Father. Manifold demands were placed upon you, and still you worked in unhurried peace and power.
Help me to walk in your steps. Teach me to see only what you see, to say only what you say, to do only what you do. Help me, Lord, to work resting and to pray resting.
I ask this in your good and strong name.
Amen." Jean Vanier
My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that
I think I am following Your will does not mean that I am
actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please You
does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that, if I do this, You will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore I will trust You always though I may seem to be lost
and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for You are ever with me,
and You will never leave me to face my perils alone.
Take, Lord, all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my whole will.
You have given me all that I have, all that I am, and I surrender all to Your Divine will.
You have given me all that I have, all that I am, and I surrender all to Your Divine will.
Give me only Your love and Your grace. With this I am rich enough, and I have no more to ask.